However you choose to say it, here they are. Our time in Vancouver is all blending together in my mind, so I gotta get this out before I forget.
Friday, February 27
My parents drove us to the airport. Charlie didn’t cry at all when Jeff and I left, but I definitely choked up as I watched our car pull away from the curb with my little boy inside. Once inside the airport, we realized how easy traveling can be when there are no children involved! No stroller, no diaper bag, no fussy baby/toddler — just our own little selves to get through security. We made it to our gate with lots of time to kill, so we leisurely read magazines and books, chatted, people-watched, and eventually ate “lunch” at 10:15.
The first flight was uneventful — Jeff read the entire time, I slept through most of it (what luxury!). We had a layover in Seattle, which was the best layover experience I’ve ever had. Cool airport, relaxing atmosphere . . . we just sat by the wall of windows, watching the planes take off and reading our books.
Flying into Vancouver was fun. The views are incredible! Jeff had a window seat on our tiny little prop plane, and he looked out and followed I-5 for most of the flight. The captain pointed out the various mountain ranges to the east, and the islands to the west. I actually got teary-eyed when he mentioned the San Juans.
Our friend Ryan picked us up at the airport. We had just seen him and Katie and Gloria in early January, so it felt strangely normal to be with them again. We settled in at their place (it felt like being home!), and Katie fed us an amazing supper of potato-leek soup and Superstore’s Bake at Home bread (the BEST!). We had invited old friends to come by that evening, so we had a wonderful time reconnecting with the Sartors (and meeting little Isaac), and later some friends from our old church: the Yips, the Fenns, and Randy Hamm. Good, fun, and relaxing — the perfect welcome back to Vancouver.
Jeff and Ryan headed to Queen Elizabeth Park for a game of Frisbee Golf, while Katie and I just hung out at the house. Then we all drove up Main Street, trying to decide where to eat lunch. We ended up at Vera’s for big yummy burgers, then walked the block or two to JJ Bean so that Jeff could feed his addiction. Oh, it was all so familiar! We decided to just wander on Main for a bit, so we walked up to Broadway before turning around back toward the car. This was mine and Jeff’s old neighborhood — it was thrilling and surreal to walk along the same stretch of shops that used to be mere blocks from our home. Most of it was the same, but there were a few buildings that looked brand new and unfamiliar. We realized that when we left almost two years ago, those had been construction sites.
Saturday afternoon was lazy: I took a nap, Jeff read, and I’m pretty sure the Cochrans did something equally relaxing. Then we all sat around their kitchen table for a long time, discussing worship music while Gloria had supper. Oh man, she’s adorable! Mealtimes with her are a lot of fun. Once Baby G was in bed, the four of us got snazzied up a bit and drove to the Fish House in Stanley Park for a fancy dinner (don’t worry — Israel was at home with Gloria). We had coupons that couldn’t be used until 9pm, so we just walked around the park until then. What a wonderful time with friends! During this little walk, we had a sweet conversation about how much we value our friendship. And not just the fact that Ryan and Jeff are friends, and Katie and I are friends. But that the FOUR of us, all together, love one another and really treasure being together. Our meal was perfect: delicious food, great service, and the ease of conversation with old friends.
We almost overslept. Jeff woke me up at 10:00 and said, “We gotta go.” The Cochrans were already gone to Ebenezer for the morning, so Jeff and I just rushed around getting ready. We were about to walk out the door when we realized we didn’t know where to find keys for Ryan and Katie’s car. Lots of frantic snooping around the house ensued. Finally Jeff walked over to their church, up to the front pew in the middle of the service, and got the key from Katie. =) We drove to Tenth Avenue Church, where we used to attend and where I had worked for over two years. Wow, how things have changed! We had a great morning there, reuniting with some old friends, touring new and/or rearranged areas of the building, reminiscing, and worshiping with that community that is still so passionate and thriving.
After the service, we walked a few blocks to Pad Thai for lunch. We had been dreaming of this yummy, super-cheap Thai food for weeks, so we were hugely disappointed to see that they were closed! Because we had our hearts (and stomachs) set on Thai, we drove to Cambie and had lunch at Thai Away Home, a delicious backup option. We then drove to Solly’s on Main Street and purchased a half-dozen cinnamon buns, the yummiest you’ll ever eat!
The rest of the day we shared with good friends from Tenth. First we spent a couple hours with Randy and Hannah and their kids, Brendan and Miranda. While living in Vancouver, we grew close with this family on several levels: Randy and I worked together at the church; Jeff and Hannah were often on worship team together; and we occasionally babysat for Brendan and Miranda. It was crazy to see them so grown up now — taking ballet classes, playing hockey, learning piano, building Lego ships and trucks, etc.
We then headed to the home of Marcus and Alicia, friends from our old church small group. SO great to see them! Alicia and I had a neat friendship after our babies, Charlie and Sophia, were born on the same day by the same doctor. We lived only a few blocks from each other, so Alicia and I spent many of those early days going on walks together with our teeny-tiny babies. Last Sunday evening, we shared a wonderful supper with them, and were soon joined by another couple from the small group, Kevin and Karla and their Baby #2, Elora. It’s always a special treat to reconnect with people with whom you’ve shared life in a deep way.
This was the day of experiencing Vancouver a little more. Jeff and I hopped on the Fraser St. bus, then took the B-line to Regent College, which was the whole reason we ever lived in Vancouver to begin with. It’s changed a lot since we lived there, and we only recognized a couple of people, but it was still great to stop by. We got a chance to sit awhile with Richard Thompson, my first boss at the church, who now works at Regent. Neat man, and so easy to chat with.
Next we got to walk a bit through the Point Grey neighborhood as we made our way to Jeremy and Liesel’s house. Liesel was/is due with their first baby any day now, so it was an exciting time to chat with them. If you haven’t already, little Baby Rios, come quickly!
Next was a long, lovely walk to 4th Avenue, where we got on the bus for Kits. Jeff and I used to love lazy Saturday afternoons of window shopping in Kitsilano. We were never trendy enough to really fit in there, but that didn’t stop us. On this particular day, we met up with the Cochrans, grabbed a bite to eat, and just wandered for a while. The boys headed to Zulu Records, Jeff’s favorite music store of all time, and Katie, Baby G, and I went to maternity stores and boutique baby shops. =)
Monday night, our last night in town, was low-key at the Cochrans. We played dominoes, as per tradition — we were much too tired to play the entire game, but much too stubborn to quit!
The morning of farewell. Ryan cooked us up a yummy pot of oatmeal, and Katie and Gloria drove us to the airport. We had a non-stop (yay!!) flight back to Chicago, which was long and without incident. I tried to sleep, and did some, but also read a bit, attempted a crossword puzzle, and just sat there, contemplating life and home and friends.
I asked Jeff, “Where do we even belong?” I started feeling a bit stuck. In a good and positive and healthy way, returning to Vancouver provided a sense of closure for us. Yes, we miss the city like crazy, and yes, we constantly asked ourselves, “WHY don’t we live here anymore?” But it isn’t really home anymore. We’ve moved on, for better or worse, and our church and our neighborhood and our friends have moved on too. And yet . . . Chicago, while there are things and people here that we value and are grateful for, still cannot bear the term “home” for us. But those are thoughts for another day.
So that was our trip! A wonderful, much-needed retreat. We had a blast, and Charlie had a blast with his Nana and Gramps, and Nana and Gramps had the time of their lives. And I hope the Cochrans had a great time too! This might just have to be a regular vacation for us.